I don’t know why I obsess so much about putting my cats’ food in a clean bowl. Anyone who has an up close and personal relationship with cats knows they like to put on a show about being clean, but in fact they are slobs. For example, the first thing Henry does when he is presented with his breakfast in a pristine cat dish (after telling me I am feeding him gruel that no self-respecting cat would eat) is pick up bits of fish pate and drop them on the floor to eat them. Somehow, I don’t even think he notices the cute sayings on the designer dollar-store cat china that’s made in China: Tuna Breath, Meow Meow I’m Not Listening, Cat From Hell. Oh wait, maybe it’s a good thing they can’t read.
The other reason I notice my cats’ lack of general regard for cleanliness is because I am politically incorrect and let them outside. In my own defense, they were born feral and you can take the cat out of the barn but not the barn out of the cat. Given a choice, Henry would rather luxuriate in decomposing compost than hang out on the nice cushions on the porch furniture. Did I mention he is rather fluffy and also specializes in great clumps of forest debris in his armpits and legpits, which eventually turn into fetid dreadlocks, which eventually fall off on my duvet cover. Right before he coughs up the associated fur ball.
Dennis is more of a rodent aficionado than Henry, and that should not be censured by anyone, even if you are in the “cats should be inside” camp. When I lived in Forest Hill, probably one of the Toronto neighbourhoods voted to be the most unlikely to invested by rats, Dennis caught at least two per day (or night) and proudly left them at our back door. As big as Chihuahuas. He is a little less motivated when at the cottage, happy to watch the mice frolic. He has declared himself a big-game hunter and won’t sweat the small stuff. But he does go after the red squirrels, for which no jury of my peers would convict me for encouraging. Red squirrels are rats in fluffy-tail clothing. They can chew through walls and insulation and wiring. They are evil incarnate. Dennis chooses to do the zombie thing and eat their brains and maybe some tasty morsels south of the head, but he leaves the back-end and tail to speak for itself. Like a head on a stick (but of course he has already eaten that part so maybe not a good analogy…), a warning to all red squirrels who wish to breach our walls: this will not end well.
But as weird as it is to have animals living in my house, and as unhappy I am to have Henry foisting his cat-food-breath face into mine in the morning, and as unhappy I am to let Dennis out at precisely four in the morning every morning, they have trained me well.